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Mo's Owner Bringing Union Hall-Inspired Bar to Bed-Stuy

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A new bar inspired in part by Park Slope's Union Hall is coming to Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Brooklyn's Community Board 3 Monday voted to support a liquor license for Calvin Clark's new bar Bedford Hall, a roughly 3,000-square-foot space at 1177 Bedford Ave. that will feature bookshelves, a fireplace and games, similar to the popular Park Slope establishment.

"I'm a lover of history and books," said Clark, who owns the popular Fort Greene bar Mo's. "So when I walked into Union Hall, I just fell in love with it, and said, 'I would like this to be in Bed-Stuy.'"

Clark signed a 12-year lease in January after taking over the space formerly held by the short-lived Stable House Cafe. He's begun renovations, and hopes to open the bar in June.

 Calvin Clark, owner of Mo's in Fort Greene, is opening a new bar in Bed-Stuy inspired in part by Union Hall.
Calvin Clark, owner of Mo's in Fort Greene, is opening a new bar in Bed-Stuy inspired in part by Union Hall.
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Calvin Clark

Like the Park Slope bar, Bedford Hall will feature a gaming area. At Union Hall, the game of choice is bocce ball; Clark's bar will feature billiards and table shuffleboard, the owner said.

The decor will be similarly Union Hall-inspired: the walls will be lined with bookshelves; the fireplace will be gas-powered; customers will be able to relax on couches and comfortable chairs; and Clark said he has begun digging for old books in thrift stores.

The idea was to make the place look and feel like home, he said.

"It feels just kind of timeless and comfortable and easy," Clark said. "I like creating spaces where people can socialize, and I like to do that in a kind of unconscious way. It makes it easier for people to kind of gather and meet each other."

It's a technique he also used at Mo's, the 25-year Fort Greene resident said. Opened in 2011 after the closure of the similarly-named Moe's, Clark said he started by adding comfortable wingback chairs and serving food to create a more relaxed setting in the space.

The similarity in names at Mo's initially caused a controversy. Former owners Ruby Lawrence and Chelsea Altman criticized the decision to ostensibly keep the name, and in the summer of 2011 staged a silent protest across the street from the bar alongside former Moe's patrons.

When asked whether he expected any controversy over the similar name and appearance to Union Hall, Clark said he didn't foresee a problem.

"I'm not calling it 'Union Hall,'" Clark said. "They were inspired by interior designers from 100 years ago. And I like some of that Victorian, some of that classic old-world look."

At Monday's community board meeting, one board member expressed her support for the bar, saying she'd been to Mo's and found it to be a welcoming, community atmosphere.

Hopefully, Clark said, Bedford Hall can bring some of those same qualities to Bed-Stuy.

"I really want it to just be a place where the people of Bed-Stuy come to just love," Clark said. "A place where they can come to socialize, and feel really proud that it's in their neighborhood."